Person of Interest Review: "Number Crunch"

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It's interesting to think that for two men with a lack of trust, the one thing that they put so much faith into rattles out social security numbers on its own accord and with no rhyme or reason as to its top picks.

Sure, The Machine gathers information that can lead it to predicting violent crimes, but what makes it pick one person over another? What makes it spit our four numbers sometimes and only one number other times?

While I hope that either Reese or Finch begin to question their electronic instructor at some point, two ideals remain true to them: Save lives. Stop criminals. That is what keeps them going. That's what keeps Person of Interest going.

"Number Crunch" followed in the familiar vein of machine gives numbers and Reese and Finch save the day, but the episode took another step further. Not only was the main plot filled with mystery as to why four numbers popped up, what their connections were, and what/who would cause the crime, but there was even the continuation of last week's storyline and the reveal of some enigmatic men after Reese.

Bridget Regan on Person of Interest

It was great to see that Person of Interest is eager to try new things instead of simply resting on its most basic premise of predicting the future and providing hero butt-kicking in the process.

Additionally, both plot lines were tantalizing in their ability to keep you wanting more. Each step that was taken, each clue that was uncovered held enough mystery to be captivating, but offered up just enough to satisfy some story knowledge.

Reese was even forced to do a little multi-tasking and require others to help him out. As much as he can punch, kick, and shoot his way with effortless style, sometimes it takes a team effort to get the job done.

Which of course meant that Fusco was given more to do than simply take orders (although he reluctantly does it so well), Finch left his computer station (and risked his own life in the process), and Carter struggled with her dilemma in helping Reese or capturing him (the issue every good cop has with a crime fighting vigilante). Everyone was truly involved.

But even so, not every person was saved. As much as it's unfortunate for those fictional characters, it adds a sense of reality. It keeps Reese from being victorious every time, provides further questioning of the Machine, and maintains the often dark and gritty tone of the show.

Which similarly, continues to revolve around Reese. He is of course the hero of this show on a redemptive path, but he is also a killer. The CIA men bring this point up clearly and even Reese illustrates that dark and dangerous side to viewers. He's willing to fight women and shooting to kill is always an option. It certainly separates him from other Jonathan Nolan fare like in The Dark Knight in which Batman refuses to kill.

And what's more interesting is the revelation that Reese killed his own handler. Why? I'm going to assume it was because she turned evil or nefarious, but it would be even more interesting if it was because Reese became too engrossed in his "killing" job. And who are we to believe these men? After all, they did try and kill Reese.

Which brings up another great point about this episode. The final moments including Reese's standoff and escape from Carter and the CIA felt perfect for the likes of a finale.

I knew there was no way Reese would die of course, and I predicted that Carter would repent herself and help Reese escape, but it didn't ruin the ending for me. If anything, it pushed the show on another step forward.

Carter now knows the faces of the men she's been hunting, but (and you could tell in her face) she seemed rather reluctant to let them go. Perhaps she felt that capturing Reese when he was shot by the CIA would be like cheating and its not to say that if given a second opportunity she would take the chance to bring him in. But it does say something of her conflicted ideals on upholding the law and taking the law into one's own hands.

It was a great way to conclude not only the episode, but the first half of the season.

It will be very interesting to see their relationships continue to unfold and even the question of another conflicting party (police, CIA, mafia, and Carter so far) bringing more drama and confrontation into the mix.

I'm a little disappointed that Jim Caviezel lowered Reese's voice back down again and he seemed to be less quippy. Maybe it was the stress of dealing with four numbers, but if you've got time to sit down and get a haircut, you've got time to raise your voice and smile.

Then again, every female that Reese meets seems to go for the tall dark and mysterious look. He's like a regular silver fox, who can kick the crap out of you if he wants.

I also wished that the foster sisters that Reese did manage to save weren't so boring. There was no real spice to their lives besides the fact that they were using the stolen money to save the house.

I know Person of Interest is far from perfect, but it's moving in a positive direction as it continues to evolve and change for the better. Ultimately, it's an entertaining hour of television that combines a bit of science fiction, super-heroism, action, mystery, procedural, drama, and over arching stories. Let's hope the show can keep it coming.


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (423 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Only recently got into the show and i'm a huge fan! I love the suspense, and i'm a bit surprised that no one has come up with this idea before.


POI won a People's Choice award!! Oh, I am so happy for them, and like real professionals, they were off filming during the show. Way to go everybody!!!!


The questioning of the machine is my only real "problem" with the show. I've told several people, "if you can wrap your head around the idea that this super Big Brother type computer can somehow predict pre-meditated murders, then you'll really enjoy the show." I enjoy it but I've got the same issues that you bring up....
- How exactly does this machine work and how can it really be trusted?
- Why does it only spit out 'numbers' of people living in NYC?
- What if (and this is my favorite question) if came up with either Finch's or Reese's number? (although I guess they sorta of already played the main character card by having Carter's name come up)


Hi. Do you know when POI will start filming in January 2012?


I kept coming back for the great Big-Brother-paranoia story and, of course, Michael Emerson's acting (yes, am a grieving Lostie). After this episode, I'm totally hooked on POI. Oh joy... I was waiting for the CIA. And the plot thickens. Thank you, J.J.!


Great show, I look forward to each episode. Love the characters.


I'm surprised nothing was mentioned about the picture that fell out of the book at the beginning of the ep. I think the note on the back said, "In the beginning". Wonder what that means. Finch said something ominous too, about finding what you're looking for. I get the feeling that Reese and Finch have crossed paths somewhere in the past and only Finch is aware of it. It's just another point upon which to ponder in anticipation for the upcoming second half of the season.


Nice to see another true Ambidextrous shooter in Mr. Reese. Right hand for pistols, left for long guns. GREAT SHOW!!!! Keep 'em coming!


Why didn't the Machine come up with Reese's number as a warning that he himself was a POI?


I really loved this episode, can't wait for the next one. The chemistry between the cast is amazing. Reese speaks softly a lot of the time because he is speaking to Finch through his mike, so he doesn't draw attention to himself. Jim Caviezel is a beautiful soft spoken man anyway, I don't expect him to be loud, he's fine as he is, mesmerizing to watch. I look forward to Thursdays, I wouldn't miss this show for anything, hope CBS keeps it around for a long time to come.

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